Two Point Guards – The NBA’s Next Revolution

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Two Point Guards – The NBA’s Next Revolution

 

July 10th 2014, the Phoenix Suns made a trade for the Los Angeles Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe. Just two days later, they acquired the 60th pick in the 2011 draft, Isaiah Thomas from the Sacramento Kings. They joined Goran Dragic, and all seemingly had no chance to mesh together, as all were ball handling point guards. But head coach Jeff Hornacek and general manager Ryan McDonough saw the potential Gongfu Tea Cup something special.
There were a lot of doubters at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, three starting calibre point guards, all on the same team, all demanding large amounts of minutes. How was it going to work? Luckily Hornacek saw the lockdown defensive potential of Bledsoe, and slotted him into the starting line-up as the shooting guard. Goran Dragic had long held the starting 1 spot at Phoenix, so that left Isaiah Thomas to come off the bench, a sparkplug scorer, capable of going for 10-15 points in a short period of time. Oddly enough, the combination worked for 54 games, up until the All-Star break, with the Suns going 29-24 and in the playoff hunt at the time, and the three guards putting up respectable numbers in respectable minutes.

 

Minutes    Points    Rebounds    Assists    Steals    Blocks    Turnovers
Dragic    33.4    16.2    3.6    4.1    1.0    0.2    2.2
Bledsoe    33.9    17.2    5.2    5.9    1.7    0.6    3.1
Thomas    25.7    15.2    2.4    3.7    1.0    0.1    1.9
*All stats accurate PRE-ALLSTAR weekend, 2014-2015 season

But Dragic had had enough, and requested to be traded out, and on the 19th of February, trade deadline day, Dragic was sent to the Miami Heat along with his brother, Zoran, in exchange for Danny Granger and two future first round picks. On that same day, the Suns traded Thomas in a three team deal, that led to Thomas at the Boston Celtics, and Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks landing in Phoenix.
Unfortunately Knight suffered a short-term ankle injury on March 9th, and then a season-ending left heel bone bruise in early April, which required arthroscopic surgery, and the Suns plummeted to a 39-43 record and missed the playoffs, but their dual point guard line-up was still in place.
At the time of writing, Knight and Bledsoe have been a highly explosive dual point-guard combo, and while the standings don’t say so (11-15) the Suns are looking like they could be a dark horse to fly up the standings. The combo’s individual stats are All-Star calibre:

Minutes    Points    FG%    3P%    FT%    Rebounds    Assists    Steals    Turnovers
Knight    35.8    20.4    43.5    37.1    82.1    4.3    5.3    1.7    3.3
Bledsoe    35.4    22.3    45.9    38.1    79.1    4.2    6.5    2.1    3.6

And include excellent individual performances by Knight (career high 38 points against the Nuggets, 30-10-15 triple double against the Lakers) and Bledsoe (33-3-6, 4 steals, 2 blocks against the Portland).

So is this the start of something special? Revolutionary? Not the Suns, but the dual point guard line-up. While the Suns are the only team to regularly start two point guards, more and more teams are using two point guards for long stretches. In Miami, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson see a lot of time together. As do Memphis’ Mike Conley and Mario Chalmers (formerly Beno Udrih). Tony Parker and Patty Mills, Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison, the list goes on.
While it’s clear that small ball line-ups are becoming the norm, we are yet to know if the dual-point guard line-up is successful. With the Phoenix Suns letting their two point guards wreak havoc on the court, their success will tell if it’s yet another revolutionary change in the NBA.

 

 

 

 

 

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